Monday, 15 May 2017

The application of ‘implied inevitability’

I see it accepted that politicians lie, get away with fraud and are not subject to the laws that are used on citizens – their actions only lighty contested and any idea of success at stopping this, laughably ridiculed. We joke about ‘trusting a politician’ – wtf though, we put our money in the hands of government and in doing so have this contract in our heads that goes something like a conversation with a partner you entrust with the household budget when handing over our share:
“Right so make sure you’ve got enough in for meals, sorted the care arrangements for granddad, have enough change for kids’ bus fares to school, get the lock on the front door fixed, pay for your prescription, put some money aside for bills and  if there’s any change, pop in the ‘in case of emergency’ pot… hey and maybe we could use some of the change to get those solar panels we’ve talked about, will save us money."

Instead, we watch as our governments act like the reckless partner who on pay day nips out to the pub, has a pint too many, lends his most unreliable mate some cash (even though he knows this will not come back but he wants to look like the big boy), has another pint and decides the neighbours look shifty, staggers home, half-builds a big fence to keep them out and spends the rest on a gun (in my head I see George Bush & Tony Blair but there are many individuals and mate-pairings that would equally spring to mind in this scenario – Maggie & Ronald etc)…

Ok perhaps extreme but we bailed out banks ffs – we bailed out banks! We didn’t bail out the things that actually matter to people - healthcare, education, energy. Nope, we bailed out banks and then because the government used our taxes to do that – we were forced into austerity because it’s not good to be in debt and somehow we still owed lots of money …to banks?! The most sickening part of this is probably the deaths of unwell and disabled people for whom the cuts to benefits and services was the final straw. There are of course long-term costs too that will impact in stages as we experience the loss of services due to cuts: fewer fire stations, under-funded hospitals, fewer teachers leading to increased class sizes leading to children who are not given the best start in life, isolation and loss of community that comes with closure of libraries, post offices and bus services, increased tension and the need for bigger walls as our stance on defence looks threatening.

We get to vote to change the players and the parties – even sometimes to change the voting system for something equally undemocratic …but this is piece-meal and simply rearranging outdated, unsuitable, damaged goods over and over. Most rational adults I know (and even wiser children) don’t believe our system of government will stand up to the demands of corporate and industry backers even when what they insist on doing – actually risks harming our children. Writing that sentence, leaves me muted for a moment (never lasts long) That this system of government is not only tolerated but that there is even humour in the ‘never trust a politician’ line is I think based on an almost comforting familiarity – it’s always been this way.

John Ashton (in government roles for 30 years and hugely important voice for anti-fracking now) helped me to understand this reality when I was explaining that after every information event we did about fracking in towns across the country; by the end most of the room had recognised the clear risks to their families and went on to act in some way to find out more or to stop it. There was though in nearly every venue regardless of where in the country it was, a few who would come up at the end and say:
“You’re probably right but it’s going to happen anyway”.  

I couldn’t work out what it was that caused this reaction, this impotent response that showed easy defeat, a willingness to accept that governments play Russian roulette with our lives.

John smiled knowingly and said:
“Ahhh that’ll be the ‘implied inevitability’ – some believe that if the government has made its mind up, they can’t do anything to change it… and the government knows and relies on this.”

At a meeting, one older gentleman who said the “it’s going to happen anyway” line and smiled condescendingly at what he perceived as my futile efforts to prevent a provably dangerous industry from progressing further, caused me to want to shout “spineless coward” … but that’s unfair and judgemental; just caused by the deep worry I have about where this ends up if the ‘implied inevitability’ succeeds in eventually damping us all down to completely-ineffective.

Why rise up, why challenge, why strive for better – when you accept that you have no power, no voice, no chance to affect change?  Look at what happened at Lancashire County Council (LCC)… it couldn’t be a clearer example of the deliberate infusion of ‘implied inevitability’ into not just our region but all communities…

LCC spent 18 months, countless Councillor and staff hours and tens of thousands of £s during the period where they examined shale gas company Cuadrilla’s planning applications for Preston New Road and Roseacre. They concluded NO to planning and as a community – we rejoiced that our Councillors reflected what so many of us had hoped for. There was a scent of democracy in the air in the summer of 2015 on a road in Preston.

Then came the appeal by Cuadrilla at the Blackpool Football Club and despite four legal teams defending the LCC decision and just one clearly flawed team opposing… despite reams of testimony by experts, countless peer reviewed studies referenced and enough evidence to fill a wall of the appeal room as well as days of community testimonies, a decision was made in Westminster and announced by and MP from Kent that the government felt the issue of national importance and would make a new decision for us. Cuadrilla was given the go ahead and our Council’s NO to planning, overturned. There remains an overwhelming stench of dictatorship in the stifled air at a growing frack site on Preston New Road.

THAT’S how ‘implied inevitability’ works… now every council in our country upon receiving a planning application for shale gas sites will ask if there is any point in doing much more than waving it through. Councils are underfunded and impacted hugely by austerity (as we each are) and are vulnerable because they cannot afford to defend themselves if their decision is not what the government wants to hear. And so it seems ‘inevitable’ that Councils will have to wave through applications – because what point in spending all that time and money when you don’t really have any say at all in the end?

The government got drunk again and decided that our neighbours needed sorting out,  though we had frequently gone round to their house to eat, drink and enjoy what they have... we didn’t want them coming to take our food and drink and comfortable sun loungers… so all in our household were told lies – we were told that while the neighbours were visiting they cost us lots of money that we would definitely otherwise have spent on those solar panels afterall and we’ll be much happier and wealthier if we stop sharing… even though we won’t be shared with either anymore. 

A snazzy  ‘Brexit’ was sold to us on the side of lying buses and we were forced to make decisions based on incomplete information and out and out BS… just saying the words “But you decided so that’s that – it’s democracy” – does not make it so. If I was offered a choice of kettles A or B but later found out that they were actually toasters – I wouldn’t expect to hear: “But you chose kettle A and rejected kettle B – you made your choice now live with it”. I’m not asking for a re-run of the referendum – I just want a real one. The Green Party is calling for our participation in the ‘Brexit Deal’ when it comes – a chance to indeed have a say in whether we accept it or not and it is hoped this will be supported by others in parliament.

So we enter into this mad dash toward another box-ticking exercise of an election that ‘implied inevitability’ and historic fact tells us will end red or blue. We have this awful First Past the Post (FPtP) voting system that pretty much ensures a 2-horse race every time and although I find the leader of the red team better this time round – neither of the two major parties want to change the voting system so that it more accurately reflects the broader colours of a diverse country. I’d like Jeremy a whole lot more if he addressed this – because otherwise it just looks like the ability to be one of the horses in the 2-horse race, matters more than getting true representation and fairness into our system of government.

 Here on the ground though there is a sweet aroma of co-operation and hope… agreement that the one thing we need is for the country not to go blue this time, is permeating amongst the many...
only 24% of voting-age citizens actually chose blue last time – that’s how warped this system is… 76% said NO to Conservative government but there they are, milling about and inflicting their harms on us anyway

In 27 seats, the Green Party has stood aside to achieve the unseating of Conservative MPs, Liberal Democrats and Independents too have done the same. In many places where the red team historically has no hope of winning… then other shades can challenge and use the platform to bring different views and ways. There are ‘issue candidates’ like the doctor standing against Conservative Jeremy Hunt (health secretary who made lots of people sick) and I am standing against a weak MP who claims to care about the risks of fracking but helps bring it to our doorstep anyway. For us it isn’t just one issue though – it’s the system and party that makes the issues reality.  A vote for a doctor or an anti-fracking campaigner is a clear signal of what a vote means.

‘Inevitably’ because the FPtP voting system doesn’t represent the many, the best we can hope for is to wake on 9 June 2018 and have got rid of the blue team… which means a Labour government and that would have been almost as bad under former Leaders – but there is Jeremy Corbyn and his small team of what sounds like wise voices. The blues have only a tiny minority so I am hopeful – but what matters here too is the bigger picture and in areas where no red has ever or will ever win, please vote for what will either unseat the blue or introduce another colour.

I’d like to see MPs from other parties making it through so we can begin to dilute the harsh red/blue hues and see little changes that could make big differences. Caroline Lucas is admired by people for finally getting major issues into parliament and respected by people from all parties for her skills as a politician (her key skills I think are in adding humanity and sense to the role and showing no clear bias to anything other than making choices that prevent the worst and aim for better for the way we live our lives and the way our environment supports us) – we need more of this.
Why vote for me? 

I find the question uncomfortable as it requires what feels like bragging – it’s not me I want you to vote for as a person, it’s me the Green Party way, it’s me the frustrated and determined anti-fracker that wants your vote. It is NOT inevitable that a ‘vote for Greens is wasted’ – Caroline is testimony to that along with exemplary Green Councillors (Gina Dowding must be the hardest working and most dedicated I have ever met) who just increased their numbers in local elections. Young people need more Green Party representatives because they’ll be around a lot longer to experience whatever the next governments throw at us. 

The Green Party has since its start – stood firm about our guardianship of the environment for generations to come and (amidst ridicule) insisted that the trees actually do matter, that air and water cannot be risked, that decent farming techniques that nurture the growing land and quality of the food we eat – are not to be trifled with and that above all, people and the natural resources that literally keep our species alive – come above and beyond money. There’s a whole lot more wisdom here in this party I am so honoured to be a part of – from the way our conferences actually give me a say in policies, to the kindness of policies that actually care for how our healthcare is supported, our schools fully funded and in these policies is sound economic sense – a healthy, educated population is worth so much more than money but does improve the economy and not drain it.

When I first joined in 2013 – I deliberately thought out my own policies before reading what was offered in the manifesto… in each case, the Green Party echoed my own insistences and the 10 principles is a good way to sum them up:

The Green Party isn't just another political party. Green politics is a new and radical kind of politics guided by these ten core principles:

  1. The Green Party is a party of social and environmental justice, which supports a radical transformation of society for the benefit of all, and for the planet as a whole. We understand that the threats to economic, social and environmental wellbeing are part of the same problem, and recognise that solving one of these crises cannot be achieved without solving the others.
  2. Humankind depends on the diversity of the natural world for its existence. We do not believe that other species are expendable.
  3. The Earth's physical resources are finite. We threaten our future if we try to live beyond those means, so we must build a sustainable society that guarantees our long-term future.
  4. Every person, in this and future generations, should be entitled to basic material security as of right.
  5. Our actions should take account of the well-being of other nations, other species, and future generations. We should not pursue our well-being to the detriment of theirs.
  6. A healthy society is based on voluntary co-operation between empowered individuals in a democratic society, free from discrimination whether based on race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, religion, social origin or any other prejudice.
  7. We emphasise democratic participation and accountability by ensuring that decisions are taken at the closest practical level to those affected by them.
  8. We look for non-violent solutions to conflict situations, which take into account the interests of minorities and future generations in order to achieve lasting settlements.
  9. The success of a society cannot be measured by narrow economic indicators, but should take account of factors affecting the quality of life for all people: personal freedom, social equity, health, happiness and human fulfilment.
  10. Electoral politics is not the only way to achieve change in society, and we will use a variety of methods, including lifestyle changes, to help effect progress, providing those methods do not conflict with our other core principles.
Maybe my catch-phrase should be:

“Vote Tina for Fylde because I genuinely give a damn and won't give up or give in”